The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)‘s Queens Zoo is home to a new Andean or spectacled bear (Tremarctos ornatus), the only bear species endemic to South America.
The Andean bear is native to Andean lowlands in Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina. The species is also known as the spectacled bear because some individuals have white markings around their eyes that resemble eyeglasses. Their populations in the wild are declining due to habitat loss and hunting. The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™.
The new bear, Bouba, is a two-year-old male that came to Queens from a zoo in France, Bioparc de Dou-la-Fontaine. He shares a habitat with a female Andean bear named Spangles.
“Bouba’s energy will make him a star,” said Scott Silver, Animal Curator and Director of the Queens Zoo. “He represents an important addition to the Andean bear breeding program among zoos in the United States.” Bouba weighs approximately 100 kilograms and could weigh up to 160 kg as an adult. He adds considerably to the genetic diversity of Andean bears in North American zoos, because he is totally unrelated to the existing population of zoo bears in the US.
Footage of Bouba and Spangles as provided by WCS:
Scott Silver is the Species Survival Plan (SSP) Coordinator for Andean bears for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The SSP is a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in zoos accredited by the AZA. There are currently 55 Andean bears in 26 accredited zoos.
WCS conducts research on Andean bears across Latin America, from Ecuador to Venezuela. Throughout these countries, WCS aims to develop local capacity to conserve the habitat of the Andean bear and mitigate a variety of threats to them, including human-wildlife conflict and habitat destruction for agriculture.
(Source: WCS press release, 14.11.2013)